Pastor Jason Varnum, briefly tell us about yourself. What is “iGo” and the story behind it?
I grew up in a pastor’s home and my dad taught me by example to teach home Bible studies (HBS). Jesus said “go ye,” and so I answered “iGo.” It started out as a binder I put together over the years for our church because I could not find any books that laid out HBS from A to Z. As I gathered information, I found that the reason people don’t teach HBS is because of fear. My idea was to make it simple. It worked. I started getting reports like this: “At age 60, I just began teaching my first group Search for Truth Bible Study. I want to tell you that I don’t think that I could have done it without your help. Your outlines are phenomenal! They helped me get over the jitters of standing before a group…thank you!”
What approach do you recommend for training home Bible study teachers?
Our HBS Director Daniel Autrey and I do seminars, videos, websites and more. Our focus is to try to show people how simple getting and teaching HBS can be. In the Apostolic movement, there are so many great home Bible studies. The problem is they’re just sitting on the shelf because people don’t know how to use them or they are afraid. We break it down through concepts like How to Live 3-D, Dare to Step Out, Develop a Friendship, and Discern the Next Step. Also included is Training in the Best People (your circle of influence), the Best Places (the church), and the Best Thing to Say. It is all very simple.
What kind of success have you had with this training?
Bro Autrey: We’ve been very successful. We started out as a small HBS team going over the iGo material Pastor Varnum put together. As we started having success, we got excited, caught some momentum, and more people wanted to join. Now, we have 30-40 people teaching regularly. Last year, as a church we taught 1,200 home Bible studies. This year, we’ve done over 4,000. How we count is per person, per study. If I teach the same two people once a week for a month, that counts as eight studies.
How do you recommend keeping HBS teachers motivated, excited and involved in teaching HBS’s?
Bro Autrey: We’ve tried to create a team mentality. We have monthly meetings, and we also use technology. Every Tuesday, I make contact with each teacher. I’ll send out a text with two objectives: to motivate and to collect data. We motivate by letting them know the total taught so far that month. People get excited about those numbers. For collecting data in the text is a link, using free Google forms. This makes it simple for them to give their reports and for us to collect them.
Share some methods or techniques of how a teacher gets a HBS to teach.
Pastor Varnum: Connect. Our HBS teachers are not allowed to have their own seat at church. Their seat is wherever a new person is. They start with 3-D Living, but when it comes to setting up the HBS, they say, “What would be better for you, earlier in the week or later in the week?” Start broad, then narrow it down. If they say, “earlier,” say, “Monday or Tuesday?” If they say, “Tuesday,” ask, “6:30 or 7:30?” If you give them two options, they will pick one.
Bro Autrey: We tell our HBS teachers once a quarter to revisit their circle of influence. We say, “Think of five people right now.” We’ll say a quick prayer and right then contact them on FaceBook or a text. In the message, we say, “I want you to know, you came to my mind today and I prayed for you.” Then, we wait to see how they respond. We’ve gotten lots of home Bible studies from these.
What is your opinion of the longer studies (SFT/EGW) versus the many one-lesson studies?
Pastor Varnum: I think every HBS teacher should have multiple studies they teach. You need to be able to do the one-time HBS because sometimes that’s all you have. You also need to have what we call relationship home Bible studies, teaching week after week to the same person. It’s not about the HBS; it’s about that person you need to build a relationship with. Studies like Search for Truth help you build that relationship. Jesus taught us by example. Before He was the sinner’s savior, He was their friend.
Tell us about your website and what’s on it.
Pastor Varnum: iGoBibleStudy.com is broken up into three sections: the Training Center, the Synergy Center and the Resource Center. The Training Center has a series of 10-minute videos that takes you step-by-step through how to become an effective HBS teacher. Some churches use these videos in small-group settings to train their HBS teachers. In the Synergy Center, we give ideas and strategies on creating a HBS program in your church and keeping it going. In the Resource Center, there are several FREE Bible studies you can download, PDFs, audio files, handouts, etc.
How to order “iGo” and cost involved.
Pastor Varnum: The book is $20 and available through Pentecostal Publishing House. Some of the feedback we’ve received from pastors about this book include, “This book is nothing short of awesome. I am so very impressed with your material. I wish I would have had this when I started teaching Bible studies some 35 years ago.” It’s a huge resource with a wealth of information. Some HBS directors use it for training in their monthly meetings. If you want to buy in bulk for a bookstore, you can contact me directly.